In a press release dated October 27, 2006 (nothing like sending out important releases on a Friday), Sec. Galvin finally admits that Massachusetts will indeed have Diebold’s AccuVote TSx touch-screen machines at select polling locations on November 7. In all, there will be 28 communities “testing” three types of machines. (I have a PDF of the release, but not sure how to link the file here, sorry.)
The release states:
In several municipalities throughout the Commonwealth, additional accessible voting equipment will be available during the November 7, 2006 State Election for voters with disabilities as well as any other voter who chooses to use it … Each voting system will provide a voter verifiable paper trail.
This is the first I’ve heard that the machines are not just for voters with disabilities. Also, the paper trail Galvin alludes to on the TSx machines is this lovely item, which has a litany of problems discussed here.
Here is a photo of the TSx with printer. See the “arm” on the right? That’s where the paper trail of your vote will scroll, with the magnifying lens (can’t make this stuff up) under the open black door for you to verify. Which begs the question, what happens if you’re a visually impaired voter?
The release continues:
Given the importance of procuring the most appropriate voting system accessible for voters with disabilities and the considerable amount of state and federal funds to be expended, Secretary Galvin believes further field testing is necessary before a final selection is made.
HAVA was passed in 2002. Why are we still “testing” machines four years later? As the Globe reported in August, Waltham, Woburn and Watertown were already test sites in 2005. In the same article, Galvin says that HAVA funds will cover $7 million of the potential $11 million cost of adding these machines statewide.
The release ends with the following:
Three types of voting machines that will be used are the AccuVote TSx with a voter verifiable paper audit trail, the AutoMARK voter assist terminal, and e-Slate with voter verifiable paper audit trail.
Boston will have accessible voting equipment in at least 75 polling places. The other communities will have an accessible voting machine in each of their polling places. Handicapped voters in more than 500 precincts will be able to take advantage of the new machines.
The AutoMARK machine will be at polling places in Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Chicopee, Fall River, Framingham, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Newton, Quincy, Springfield, Waltham, and Worcester.
The AccuVote TSx machine will be at polling places in Amesbury, Ashburnham, Bedford, Georgetown, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-By-The-Sea, North Andover, Reading, Salisbury, Watertown, and Wenham.
The e-Slate machine will be used in Winthrop.
Finally, there’s also been talk about some disability rights groups being in favor of the Diebold machines. The NY Times followed the money trail in this 2004 editorial (sub. req.) to explain why this may be the case.
This is such a controversial issue, with so much evidence as to the failings of this equipment, I just don’t understand why we’d even go down this road. I haven’t even touched upon the matter of actually training poll workers on these machines in less than two weeks. Fun times!
(full disclosure – I was John Bonifaz’s campaign manager and am the former E.D. of MassVOTE)